Belfast Telegraph

Her Royal Hugginess is obviously feeling the love right now, but Meghan Markle may find honeymoon comes before the wedding

By Lindy McDowell

So, you're getting ready for your Big Day and you're ticking off all those last minute things-to-do for a bride-to-be. The dress fittings, the hen party, the seating plan at the reception, your conversion into another religion by the Archbishop of Canterbury, your nails, the training exercise with the SAS in case you get kidnapped...

The last few months have certainly been action packed for Meghan Markle who, we're told, is currently being counselled by Camilla in order to calm her nerves in the run-up to her wedding with Prince Harry.

At least if Meghan is having second thoughts and planning to make a break for it, presumably those SAS skills will be a help in scything down courtiers who might try and detain her.

Ms Markle, in fairness, shows little sign of being uncomfortable with her new royal role or unenthusiastic about meeting her public.

Not only is she settling into the Windsor walkabout routine, she's already signalled that she's going to be doing it her way.

Which involves lots of hugging, emoting and talking about being a feminist who is there for the sisterhood. In nice outfits with gargantuan price tags.

The thing about Meghan is that hers is in reality a bit of a best supporting role amid the Windsor cast. She's never going to be on a par with her sister-in-law-to-be, because Kate is destined to one day be queen and the mother of a future king.

Harry is now so far down the royal pecking order he would only ascend the throne in the wake of truly horrendous calamity.

So Meghan will always have more freedom to flaunt convention than the dutiful Duchess of Cambridge.

Even so, her touchy-huggy approach to royal engagements has already raised some eyebrows.

She's a gorgeous, lively girl and it's not the breach of protocol I'd worry about, but something nobody around her seems to be too concerned about - the security aspect.

As a general rule of thumb, keeping the public at arm's length is not necessarily a bad idea.

There are, however, many who welcome this new hands-on approach, leading inevitably to speculation about that question that haunts every female who enters the House of Windsor - is she the new Diana?

She isn't Diana. Andrew Morton (who wrote the books) is right when he says there will only ever be one Diana.

Interestingly though, there is less speculation about a possibly more relevant comparison - could she be the new Fergie?

Sarah Ferguson, as was, now Duchess of York, was like Meghan, second tier in royal status. She too was lively and keen to please. She was much ridiculed ("a vulgarian" according to one snobby critic who obviously didn't feel it vulgar to go around dubbing others vulgarian.)

And true, she did make an eejit of herself.

But whatever her idiocy, it would be fair to say old Fergie wasn't/isn't an evil person. A bit grasping, maybe.

A bit overly fond of international travel. But these are hardly crimes.

Fergie, like Diana, was once welcomed into the royal household as a breath of fresh air.

Which brings us back to Meghan. Her Royal Hugginess is obviously feeling the love right now. Not just from her princely partner, but from the adoring public. But the adoring public tend to be fickle.

However much Meghan may wish to make her own mark, to shake things up a bit, I doubt we're about to witness the overall Marklisation of the monarchy.

Not least because Charles, who was notoriously jealous of all the attention Diana got, will not want a new pretender for the crown of Queen of Hearts.

Ms Markle may be about to discover that, for a royal bride-to-be, the honeymoon period comes before the wedding.

Frankly, SF has lost the plot over Mitchell

According to Sinn Fein, there's a new threat to peace, stability, the Agreement and civil discourse.

First, Stephen Nolan was accused of allowing shouty citizens on his show. Now Frank Mitchell has offended by voicing an opinion on football, this seemingly in contravention of the Agreement.

I used to work with Frank and his team. Without wishing to blow smoke up his cassock, I can say he's a brilliant journalist, an honourable man and utterly devoid of sectarian bent. Nolan too. They present phone-in shows. They do not present a danger to peace.

We may be picking up more than shopping...

You don't have to share Donald Trump's level of germophobia to wonder sometimes about the cleanliness - or lack thereof - of objects you're expected to handle in the course of everyday life.

Take, for example, those plastic wheelie shopping baskets you find in many supermarkets these days.

Has anyone ever spotted one that looked as if it might have been given even just a quick rinse out? Generally they're boggin'.

How come the hygiene police don't seem to even care?

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